The Anne Franks of Today

by Azka Mohyuddin

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – I’ve been thinking a lot about this book lately. As a recorded account of the life of a teenager in hiding during the Nazi occupation of Holland, Anne Frank’s diary serves to humanize that horror. It’s living evidence of what happens when a little girl is faced with the “truth” of not having the right to exist. It was within these pages that Anne not only validated her own existence, but gave readers insight into living in a world of non-existence.

But the wisdom and literary genius of a thirteen-year-old is not what’s been on my mind. I am left, instead, wondering what would have happened if this diary was released in real time: imagine a world where one can simply express their thoughts as they come to them… a world with internet. While millions have been inspired by Anne’s account of oppression now, how would they have reacted while it was happening if only they had known? If only they had known.

Too often our inaction against an injustice is written off as excusable because of this ignorance. But turning your face from an issue because you’re afraid of what you might find out is not ignorance; it is an injustice of its own. The people of Gaza have turned to social media to share with the world what is going on as it happens, but the world has chosen not to see. As they pen their experiences not on paper but as characters of a tweet, we look away. The following are some accounts shared on twitter:

Despite all this, the world is silent. So it really begs the question: is it the narrative that compels or the time when it is produced? Is an experience only valid when the world says it is? We have a responsibility as part of the community known as humanity to stand up against injustice—especially when it isn’t easy, because that’s when it counts the most.

Since Israel broke the ceasefire six days ago, the death toll in Palestine has risen to 166, with 1,120 injured, many of them women and children. The United Nations declared on Friday that 77% of those killed in Gaza are civilians, and called for a return to the ceasefire agreement. Despite international pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has refused. Israelis claim that they are simply acting in self-defense, but that argument doesn’t hold much weight when you consider that Israel was the one to strike first. Israel has carried out more than 1,200 air strikes thus far and with the ground invasion from earlier Saturday, the death toll will only increase. These aren’t just numbers caught up between fire; they are all Anne Franks of the region, each of them with their own hopes and aspirations. Aspirations that were cruelly stolen from them for the simple reason of being born in Palestine.

We must be careful how we tread and make sure that we stand on the right side of history; we do not live in the times of ignorance. It is not if only we had known, it is what we did despite knowing. Decades from now when my grandkids learn of this time in their history class, I do not wish for my head to hang in shame when they ask me about it. I will proudly declare how I fought the good fight and stood with the oppressed, not under any political or religious obligations, but under the responsibility of humanity. The people of Gaza are calling upon us to hear their screams, to see their loss, and to feel their pain. We cannot stand on the sidelines of this “conflict” dumb, blind, and numb.

We have the power of a voice but we must make it heard. Use the hashtags #FreePalestine and #GazaUnderAttack among others and spread awareness about these gross human rights violations through social media. Educate people by talking about it in your social circles. Sign this petition to call on the White House to condemn these horrific acts of violence and apartheid. Show solidarity with the people of Palestine by attending protests and rallies in your area. And lastly, sincerely pray for them and all the oppressed in the world. Silence is a form of compliance, speak out.

(RU-MSA will be meeting at New Brunswick on Tuesday, July 15th to head for the United Nations Plaza in NYC for an emergency protest for Gaza, and is part of a global effort to Read for Palestine — scroll to Quran #13 and claim a juz!)

Photo Credit: Wissam Nasser | Al Jazeera

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